National Guard wants Veterans to sense how much their service is appreciated
every time they drive past the Combat Readiness Training Center in Gulfport.
The 1108th Aviation
Group is restoring an AH-1 Cobra so it can be among the helicopters in a
display planned at the CRTC.
A section of the
United States Army Aviation and Missile Command, known as the Program Manager
Attack Helicopter Division, donated the Cobra to the 1108th.
“This is an AH-1S
production,” said Chief Warrant Officer 4 Allen Letort, Aircraft General
Foreman. “It holds 76 rockets or 36 rockets and eight Hellfires. It also has a
7.62 mini gun in the front and a grenade launcher.’”
Since its arrival in
January, Master Sgt. Cliff Long has invested hundreds of man-hours into the
rebirth of the Cobra, which arrived stripped down into pieces and without many
of the needed parts. So the aircraft mechanic began reaching out for help from
other units and Department of Defense agencies.
been fixing helicopters for 32 years,” said Long. “I talked to people who I
spoken to in years because I needed parts.”
Some of that help
came from the Army Aviation Heritage Foundation. Long calls that relationship
crucial to the success of the project.
“Through talking to
them, we found out we had parts they needed for their projects, and they had
parts we needed for ours. So we ended up doing a big swap,” said Long.
The AH-1 Cobra is
one of three Vietnam-era aircraft that will be on display. Others include a
UH-1 Huey, an OH-6 Little Bird, a Blackhawk, and a Chinook
The aircraft will
not be fully operational, however, they will look like they can fly.
going to make it original just like it was ready for combat operations,” said
Letort.. “We also plan on putting some shark teeth on the front because this is
an attack helicopter. It’s like a shark and
always in the attack mode.“
The hope is to
one-day give Veterans a sense of nostalgia as they ride along Hewes Avenue.
“It’s truly a great
tribute to those who’ve
served in the Army,” said Long. “We have an immense number of Veterans on the
Mississippi Coast. For them to see helicopters we’ve restored will
truly be touching to them."